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‘Conservative’ Group Promoting Higher Taxes On Solar Panel Owners

solar panel installationHomeowners that generate their own electricity would have to pay more if a self-proclaimed “conservative” group gets its ways. A utility industry-backed group called the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC is pushing legislation designed to punish homeowners and small businesses that take advantage of off-the-grid electricity, The Guardian is reporting.

If ALEC is successful, homeowners who own solar panels would actually have to pay to feed electricity into the grid, the group’s legislative analyst, John Eick, told The Guardian. ALEC also wants to cut the rates that utilities pay homeowners for electricity and eliminate tax credits for alternative energy. The group is pushing its agenda on the state and federal level.

Specifically, the group is targeting solar panels that are tied to the grid and not free-standing ones.

“As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially free riders on the system,” Eick said. “They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non-direct generation customers are being penalized.”

The group held a summit in Washington, DC, Dec. 4-6, with some of the nation’s leading conservatives speaking: Senators Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Ted Cruz (Texas), Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), and Governors Mike Pence (Indiana) and Matt Mead (Wyoming). It is not known if the speakers support all of the ALEC’s goals.

Campaign Against Off the Grid Energy Planned

Those who take advantage of off the grid energy should take notice, because ALEC is waging a nationwide campaign against self-generated electricity. The campaign is already under way and it appears to be well-funded.

Harness the power of the sun when the power goes out…

“They are trying to eliminate pro-solar policies in the states to protect utility industry profits,” Gabe Elsner, the director of the Energy Policy Institute, said of ALEC. The Guardian revealed some of the details of ALEC’s campaign including:

  • The group is using opposition to President Obama’s attempt to use clean air regulations to cut green gases to cover its anti-off the grid agenda.
  • ALEC has supported at least 77 bills in 34 state legislatures in the last year.
  • In Arizona, the state legislature passed an ALEC-sponsored a bill that allows the state to add $5 to the electric bills of those who install solar panels.
  • Utilities in Arizona wanted to charge homeowners solar panels an extra $100 a month under the proposal
  • ALEC wants homeowners that generate their own electricity to pay all the costs of transmitting the electricity through the grid. That would make it cost prohibitive for individuals to install solar panels or other home generation systems.

Homeowners and small businesses should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity they generate, Eick said.

“How are they going to get that electricity from their solar panel to somebody else’s house?” he said. “They should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity.”

So far, ALEC is receiving pushback from Republicans and Democrats in several states where they are pushing their agenda, The Guardian said.

ALEC Wants Unlimited Fracking

ALEC also wants to stop the EPA from regulating fracking. The organization has proposed legislation that would make it illegal for the EPA to shut down fracking operations or limit fracking operations in anyway even if the operations contaminated water. Off The Grid News recently reported that fracking has been linked to dozens of earthquakes nationwide.

It looks like utilities are fighting back against the off-grid electricity and the threat that it poses to their bottom lines. Big utilities, it seems, don’t like the idea of households generating their own electricity, especially with government data showing that electricity rates already are expected to go up 51 percent in coming years.

People who generate their own electricity might have to get politically active and call their state and federal legislators.

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